Comments/Context: Joel Meyerowitz seems to having a bit of a resurgence these days. A new two volume retrospective book, a European museum show, a couple of lifetime achievement awards, and now, in conjunction with joining the stable at Howard Greenberg, a two part career survey at the gallery. It feels like a consolidating, summing up moment for the influential American photographer.
One wall of the exhibit shows pairs of images in black and white and color, taken seconds apart. They are evidence of Meyerowitz' changing mind set, and the creeping influence of color on his work. The astro turf swimsuit man standing under a blimp is far more puzzling in color than in black and white. Slowly, the images seem to turn on the play of color rather than the coalescing of a decisive moment: the blue brushes of a Bulgarian car wash, a shadowy green room with an American flag, a pile of grey police barriers, a pair of camel hair coats on the sidewalk. And once again, the compositions increase in complexity, this time balancing many color fields: a bikini clad body, a blue car, and the long white line of a curb, snug in a mess of Florida telephone poles, a shapely bus driver's leg in white boots in warm yellow sun, a lion balanced by a photo-taker in a car, taken through the dark frame of another car window. The few vintage dye transfers on view tint these kinds of scenes with a more saturated, richer color, both darker and more tactile.
I liked the sense of experimentation that is found in this selection of pictures - they're not all greatest hits or best shots. Whether it was a woman behind a projection screen, the flowers in a window of a trailer, or a jumping poodle, Meyerowitz was honing his craft and internalizing the nature of photographic color. Overall, this show is a solid sampler of work from the artist's formative years, and sets the stage for Part II of the exhibit coming in December.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
- Artist site (here)
- Features/Reviews: NY Times (here), New Yorker (here)
- Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time, published by Phaidon (here)
Howard Greenberg Gallery
41 East 57th Street
New York, NY 10022